PRINT October 1999


on catalogues raisonnés

I’VE ALWAYS FETISHIZED the “complete works” editions of my favorite writers and daydreamed about the prospect of reading any one of them from A to Z (which of course I’ve never done). I loathe anthologies and the arrogance of the editor who chooses for the reader what is worthy of interest. Nothing fuels my fantasy more than the illusion of having in front of me a lifework whole, with all its moments of grace and oddity there to be unearthed (even if the exhaustiveness can only be temporary, as the appearance of countless “revised and expanded” editions of books warns us, and with the criteria for completeness ever expanding). If the museum postcard rack never seems to offer the same experience, what I enjoy most while perusing the writer’s complete works is that I’m the one who makes the selection of the keepsake.

This sense of empowerment and substitutive possessiveness is accentuated in

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